About ten days ago, I sat down with +Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor. This month’s Blog Carnival interview-palooza has thrown a kink in my usual priority order (FIFO) for interviews, and so this one appears after several others. It also took me a bit to get to the final transcript, as I had a vacation in the middle, and one does not transcribe video at Disneyland at those prices.
In any case, a long last here is the video interview with Tim. Lots and lots of fun.
are joined by Tim Shorts, proprietor of Gothridge Manor. Content creator and
Canadian along with Sean Punch and David Pulver [both laugh]
Canadian. I decided today that you are actually four times Canadian than I was
since you were 70 miles from the border. Minneapolis, St. Paul is a surprising
300 [both laugh]. This. Is. Northwest! [mimes King Leonidas from Frank Miller’s
300; both laugh more]. So anyways, thanks for joining us this evening.
great, I’m quite glad to be here actually.
plunge right in. How did you get into role-playing games, way back when?
I guess it was back in ’79, my friend Dwayne brought in B2 and we didn’t know
anything about the game. He just had it. Got it from a different friend.
to figure it out. Well, we didn’t have any of the dice or the rulebooks, so we
raided the Monopoly game and the Yhatzee game and got a bunch of six-sided dice
and figured out our own system as we went.
a kill, if we rolled a 6 it was a wound, two wounds equal a kill. We kind of
worked that out.
player characters so fast that we decided our Charisma score what we would do
is…since we knew that had something to do with following, we would make that
how many followers we would have. If we had a 16 score we could have sixteen
followers. So we would send in our followers first so we wouldn’t die so fast.
the time I was getting tired of boardgames, because it was so confined and this
game was something that wasn’t confined to a board, and I just thought that was
so cool and even though we kept playing the same thing over and over and over
that there were other things that went along with it, like weird dice – it took
us about two months to figure out how to read the four-sided dice [both laugh].
alliance –me and Dwayne – if you went out and bought a module or a book, then I
would try to buy a different one. That way we could, together . . . There has
been a big talk lately about the cost of the new books that are coming out?
remember seeing that, yep.
back then it wasn’t cheap either…
remember. It was a big deal on who had the books.
So what we did was we kind of split it up. He would get the DM’s Guide and I
would get the Player’s Handbook. Maybe this module or set of modules, and I’d
get the other, so between both of us we were able to get a few things.
funny you mention this, and I’m just going to leap right off the study guide,
so to speak, because you’ve already said something that’s interesting.
going to say interesting every five
minutes, like I did with Stacy because everything she said I said “Well that’s
Philadelphia used to have a catch phrase “As a point in fact…” And my dad
explained it to me after I said “Dad, why does he always say that?” he said
“He’s just getting himself time to think, and come up with the next thing.” So
he says this thing over and over and over again so he can structure what he’s
going to say next. Or drop bombs on buildings, depending on where you were. Do
you remember that?
you in Meadville at the time?
yeah, I’m a northwest PA boy pretty much all my life, except traveled around
quite a bit but I always ended up back here.
Because I was actually in Northeast Philly at the time. I remember thinking
about it the same way someone…when the Challenger exploded – I was big into
space exploration and stuff – random people would come up to me ask stuff like
“How many people can fly in a space shuttle?” and I’d be like “Seven” and they’d
laugh at me, and I’d be like “Ask question, give answer, mock?” [Tim laughs]. I
didn’t know, whatever, fine.
game, maybe Ars Magica – I’ve never played it so I can’t be sure – where the
whole premise is you command a small group of soldiers or mercenaries – squad
leader is your moving guys on the guard.
where you start off with a more advanced character? Where you start off with
five or six or eight followers and that’s how you play. Maybe a mini-Mass
Combat, but it’s really a roleplaying game, where each player commands a small
army of mercenaries or something?
Rob Conley, is a part of our trio of Unholy Alliance – he’s been running this
city-states, invincible overlord campaign. Everyone knows it as the Majestic Wilderlands.
years and every once and a while he feels like destroying it . . . so he has
this set up where he has these Vergians or demons and they get unleashed again
over the land and everything.
scenario, we were using the GURPS system, and there prison had gotten broken
up, what we did was play these kind of high-point characters. This was back in
3rd edition GURPS so we were playing 350 point characters and we
were like “Is he out of his mind? We’re not going to be beat by anything.”
had these overpowered creatures, but it was like a mini-Mass Combat that he had
set up for us. It was excellent. We had to defend a wall or city or something,
and we had just barely survived and
we did fantastic and we were all really happy with ourselves and then we found
out that was the scouting party [both
so we spent the rest of the session figuring out which hole we could hide in
without dying. It was a lot of fun. It was really a good time.
there was anything where we controlled a lot of folks. We played Warhammer, but
that’s not quite the same thing. We weren’t kind of controlling a group or
role-playing so much.
you play Warhammer Fantasy role-play or Warhammer armies? The miniatures.
miniatures. This group that’s here nearby, two of the guys that ran it were
carpenters so they actually had a mini city built. They actually rented a
apartment just to play. They had it rented the whole time, so they would build
cities in there so they wouldn’t have to mess up their own home with all those
things. And they would go in there and play these massive games and it was so
nerd phallus is small right now. That is amazing [both laugh].
I didn’t even know about them and I couldn’t believe…I was like “Holy crap,
this is fantastic, you know?!”
guess thinking about it, if someone said “Oh look, someone turned their
basement into this huge model train set.” You’d smile and nod and say “No
problem.” Or dioramas or all kinds of stuff. I guess having a big dedicated play
area like that, for a hobby you can drop a awful lot of money on really
shouldn’t surprise anybody.
don’t know how much the neighbors liked it with all the screaming [laughs].
“I’ll kill you!”
have wanted to be the next door neighbor to it. It was a really cool area in
I can think of where we had a Mass Combat sort of thing. Rob always likes to
play army ones, but it’s been such a long time I don’t even remember what the
others ones might have been.
So you’ve talked about some…you defniitely started in DnD, as most of us did,
and you’ve got some GURPS, and you’ve played Warhammer miniatures. What is it
about particular settings, or games, or styles of games that you like or don’t
the simplicity of the system. One thing I wrote about on my blog a little bit
ago about the GURPS system is when I was trying to find a little bit more
information. GURPS tends to have a little bit more . . . elitist kind of gamers
– you know if you didn’t do it “this way” – when we’d go on the forums, you’d
ask a honest question and we’d get attacked almost.
real answer in there. It was just basically “No. You got do [X].”
crazy equations or formulas and all I wanted to know was: If someone jumped out
of a building and they had a weapon would the weapon be able to survive the fall?
Would the AK-47 would bust into pieces? All I need to know is a round number. I
don’t need the physics of it. “They have to roll an 8 or under.” I’m good to
ended up doing anyways.
Steve Jackson Games forums are both wonderful and horrible thing. I’m a fairly
regular participant and even these days I’ll admit there is a certain crust of
frequent posters who are very aggressive in how they put forward how people
system, and the forum members are self-selecting group of a self-selecting
group. And I don’t mean “we’re looking for a few good men” here. I mean you
need to be someone who enjoys the game and you need to care about reading and
participating on the forums and you need to be one of these people feels they
need to post almost everything and that tends unfortunately…not all those guys
represent the hobby as well as say Sean [Punch] would.
your interview with Sean and it was fantastic.
just GURPS – I stay away from forums in general, because of a lot of the
similar stuff. That’s why I prefer the blog or even Google+.
community as a whole, too, because they are very supportive. Every once and a
whole stuff will flare up, but most of the time they’re kind of there to share
their stuff. Oh, this is cool, and I gotta use this.
Jackson map which is a perfect place for this.”
and probably sometimes is the trouble because you want to use it all, but you
got to edit yourself on what you can use and everything. It’s like every time I
think I got it edited down they just go and make a whole bunch of other cool
that people have talked about this, but I would love to see it too.
see some of it, but you’ve got GURPS Lite, and it’s almost not enough. And you’ve got the core rules and everything
else. And . . . in order to really play you often have to flip switches.
Ballistic, right? – you can use Gun-Fu, Hans Christian Vorticsh’s Gun Fu or you
can use Hans-Christian Vorticsh’s Tactical Shooting [Tim laughs].
overlaps, but either it’s like crazy rules-lite bullet in your head John Woo
stuff, or it’s the Delta Force TV show that I loved…I’m totally blanking [The
Unit! The Unit!] and … [both laugh]. It had a great theme song. It’ll come back
to me later.
Delta Force guys and it was totally tactical and it was based on Eric Haney’s
book “Inside Delta Force.”
but you can’t do both…easily. Unless . . . it’s like the super-heroes use
Gun-Fu, the normal guys use Tactical Shooting and that would be a cool
juxtaposition of both rules.
you have to know what that means.
the GM that’s a whole lot of stuff to be juggling at the same time. Trying to
set up a game for that would be kind of tough just because it’s like back in
college when I used to write MLA papers and APA papers for psychology and
you’re still juggling that.
system that you can do that with it’s definitely GURPS. It’s why I played it
for so long, I did it for years and years.
Black Ops game that I was running.
like “Hey, do you want to play?” and I’m like “Yes. Yes I do.”
was I a rules-guy…I think I would be less of a rules-guy with ten-years (and
much less time) under my belt. Just roll dice and tell me what the answer is.
But back then, that’s exactly what he did.
coming at you. Roll something.”
OK. I can do this”
dice and said “Oh, it bashes you in the face.”
the face.” It does this much damage and we moved on.
where I had great fun playing in Erik Tenkar’s Swords and Wizardy B-Team games.
made stuff up. There was no worrying about it . . . me and Peter Dell’Orto are
going to form a front line of two people against the orcs. Oh. Okay. That’s a
narrow ledge, you can do that. And we just went with it. It worked.
a story game. We weren’t feeling the angst as Stacy would say [Tim laughs].
consensual environment where as long stuff more or less didn’t break plausible
verisimilitude, to borrow a GURPS term, we were cool with it. We rolled some
dice and killed some orcs and that was really what was important.
that’s old school hard core right there. I love that stuff.
use a battleboard. I will on occasion, but for the most part I find that for me
anyways, when I use a battleboard, setting up the pogs, organzing the thing, it
kind of slows down the game and a lot of the time I want to keep it rolling.
mentally link up and try to tell people “Just tell me what you want to do.” Can
I sneak around and stab him in the back? Sure, go ahead and roll.
something, yeah, sure.
That’s pretty much it. Let’s see what you got.
up something else. That’s the beauty of it. That’s what makes it so much fun.
here is a deep irony, I was actually asking you all the questions that I had
been asking Stacy. I pulled up the wrong list [both laugh].
that was a really good interview with Stacy [laugh].
[garbled audio]. I’m about to ask him a question about ConTessa…that doesn’t
make any sense. Oh…this is something else. Oops.
ConTessa, if that’s a question.
No..yeah, and it was . . . and it was a fun interview and everyone should go
watch it, or read it because you can really hear what difference the headset makes.
interview and one of the things I thought was just neat about…and it’ll be fun
to see and I haven’t gotten many comments on it. I guess that’s because it’s a
hour and some change and you have to read it and make time for it.
about, but I sort of expect maybe people will let it lie.
event went off twice and to run an online gaming event with 40 or 50 events . .
. twice…there is a certain amount of chops there.
how…[laughs] there is no way I could do that. No way.
That’s why I think it’s such a great idea, and to me ConTessa is just part of
that old school mentality. It’s make something up and let’s run with it and let’s
see what happens with it.
women to support it and guys to support it at all and to run those events…I
think it’s fantastic.
got to watch a few of their panel discussions. That was really interesting, but
unfortunately because of the way the schedule was I couldn’t do more and I’d
like to do more online. but I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like.
That was actually something, believe it or not, the biggest impediment to my
gaming online has been daylight savings time or lack thereof. I can never
conference calls for work shift to Oh-Dark-Thirty which means I can come home,
have dinner, sit down, and game.
Daylight Savings time comes again in October or November, my evenings are
more-or-less free because my conference call with my counterpart in Malaysia is
in the morning ,and the Process Transfer Call is hour and a half in the
morning, and the engineering call is still Thursday nights which will probably
anywhere from three to four transpacific conference calls per week, but they
were all at night. I couldn’t do my martial arts, I couldn’t game, so I just
had to drop almost everything. But now with the Daylight Savings, time I’m
really looking forward to gaming again.
me ask you about Gothridge Manor, believe it or not, it’s funny, because in our
email exchange setting this up. It was like “Interview and stuff, blah.”
blogging I went on your site and went “Dear God in Heaven this is intimidating.” Because you have this
huge blogroll, and it was always updating and maps and whatever.
when did you feel like you hit your stride?
I don’t know if I’ve ever hit my stride…
about a stride. A hobble? A limp? A
zombie-like shamble [mimes Thriller-zombie movements and sounds].
probably more like it [laughs], yeah. It’s going to be five years ago this
April I think. Yeah.
you’re aspiring to blog longer than the Civil War? [both laugh] You need to do
a post called “Across Five Aprils.”
actually a nice title.
not mine: It’s a book.
well. Then I won’t take it.
the one who got me into it. He was doing his Bat in the Attic like a year
before. I would get on it, and I’d look at it, and I was still playing GURPS
more I hadn’t really gotten involved with the old school stuff. [Dungeons and
Dragons] 4th edition hadn’t really come out yet, and eventually I read
a few more things and I thought it was interesting.
not trying to do a edition war here though…4th edition came out and
I looked at it and Rob and I’ll do something for it. He’d already been writing
for Goodman Games previously doing his “Points of Light,” and he did a rehash
of a “Judge’s Guild” one for Necromancer Games.
and I read it, and I really did not like it. I didn’t like how it was set up.
It just felt like a video game to me. It just wasn’t for me.
Castles and Crusades, and I started getting involved…I thought “I get to roll
my d20 again!”
biggest thing that got me. I get to roll my old dice again that were getting
dusty in there.
Did [Dungeons and Dragons] 4th
edition not use a d20 as much?
didn’t like the game so I wasn’t interested in rolling a d20 [Doug laughs].
really wanted to try to…you know the edition wars started flaring up there and
I didn’t want to get involved with that. It’s like music, some people country,
some people like rap, it doesn’t mean it’s bad it’s just not your flavor or
jump in there for a second, there is a difference between . . . and you’re
making the distinction . . . between “this game is not for me” and “this game
is objectively bad.”
can like it! Which is cool, I’ve just never played it.
played it. I’ve played with some guys who are very good DMs like Rob or any of
my other guys because I don’t care. I just want to roll dice and have some fun
and laugh and say stupid stuff, and whatever.
interested in getting my old dice out and rolling them. I don’t really like
this game, and I kind of found Castles & Crusades and I found OSRIC or
Swords & Wizardry and then Fight On! came out.
this cool stuff come out and that’s what kind of got me on doing blogging and
do get into this. It’s stuff I’ve been doing for ever and why not? It looks
like fun. I’ll give it a try. That’s pretty much what got me into it.
So one of the things that I thought was really cool when I logged onto
Gothridge Manner was your blog roll was extraordinarily extensive. It just went
on and on and on. So how did you start building that? It was so big, and it
rotates A-Z and…
only lets you put something like a 166 or 167 on your blog roll, and I’ve been
doing it for so long I keep building them up. They fall off or whatever and you
can only keep five, ten, or twenty…I really wanted to see more blogs when I go
down my roll so I don’t miss as much, because I used to miss blogs all the
better so I can see newer stuff coming out, I can see the A-blogs, plus it’s
just for having the amount of good blogs out there too.
support as many as I can that I like. If somebody comes on my blog and they hookup
with somebody else’s blog through there, that’s fantastic. That’s what I hope
extensive as some of the peoples that are out there. If I find one or if I
don’t know about it I try to go get it and get it hooked up with my blogroll so
I can follow them and see what they are doing.
Charles Akins over at Dyvers has set the new standard.
And he commented on each one too! Not only did he list it, he had a comment and
how often they posted and I was like “Oh my gosh, that’s just amazing.”
things where it’s just like there is no way I’d be able to do something like
that was a real effort.
So I’ve seen it. I’ve seen that Peter Dell’Orto has one, and I live in endless
jealousy of his Newbie Blogger Award. So what is that? How do you decide to do
remember, I have no idea, I just thought it would be fun and I just thought I’d
make up this silly…you know what it was? Ivy started blogging, my wife. She was
always getting these flowery awards they give each other for whatever reason.
OSR award like that for shits ‘n giggles. And I wanted to make sure it was a hex,
and then I found that goofy picture with a knight on it and I thought it was
funny and I just thought “Well, I’ll make some arbitrary rules that I can
change at any time if I wanted to,” which I did.
is appropriately OSR.
[laughs] Exactly. And I just gave it to guys which I thought were good. And the
other thing was by then I was kind of getting a little bit known, nowhere near as
well known as a lot of those guys out there, but a little bit.
Aware winner they would drive traffic to their blog, and maybe get a little
extra support, getting them noticed or whatever, get’ em some extra followers, get
that charisma up there [laughs].
Exactly. It’s kind of funny because I’m trying to remember…it was very clear
the first time Erik mentioned me on his blog. That was a very distinct point in
my blog traffic [Tim nods, agreeing].
a little bit. I think I started getting a bit more traffic after I posted
Sean’s interview, then the Pyramid Panel. The Pyramid Author Panel discussion
has gotten like 3,500 views since it went up which is the most looked-at post
I’ve ever had.
the only one I haven’t watched yet. That’s the one I’ve queued up to watch later,
but yeah, I’m really interested in that one.
one was pretty good . . . you can see like three levels of my blog views.
most of the hits are me.” There is a little bit of blogsturbation there [Tim
laughs harder, wheezing slightly].
That’s a good word. That’s not bad.
parents were English majors. That’s what happens to me I guess.
Probably one of the times I got a lot of hits on, was really early on when Chicago
Whiz was still around and everything like that. I did this blog on
“uber-monsters,” monsters that created monsters, and were like a plague or a pest.
like that and it became a sort of mini-thing that involved other people who
were riffing off it.
for a little bit and then calmed back down and then did another blog where
people got interested in it like that. If you do it long enough they’re going
to see it just because you’ve been around for so long. “He’s been around a
For a while I had a rotating schedule. I was playing in a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy
game, and a Pathfinder game once a week. Interesting enough, the GURPS Dungeon
Fantasy campaign was using a Pathfinder Adventure Path.
can see that. Absolutely.
It was cool, so that would give me a couple of play report stuffs, because Erik
and the [B-]Team mocked me because I transcribed the game as it happened [Tim
this guy hit this guy and this guy hit this guy. And Peter made a funny joke
and he told me I needed to do something else.
reports, but it’s like the game was over, and five minutes later, because I’ll
do screenshots and stuff like that, it’s one of the reasons that – to segue way
into something actually about the interviewee, not about me – that’s how I
really got to know The Manor zine. Because Erik run us through the Cave complex
from Manor #3.
Mine of Rotten Disease. I did read that. It’s great. It’s good to see that
because I hadn’t seen anybody run that. I’ve always liked that one, because Ivy
did the artwork for that one, it’s kind of one of my favorite ones.
we’ll get into this a little bit, later I think, not that much later because
we’re not here forever.
hit a sweet spot for a mini-module or one-shot that you can play in two to four
hours and be done.
what I try to do with a lot of my adventures. I like to have, call it Knoweldge
Illuminats, a one-shot adventure. I try to bring in different elements to it
and not just make it a one-level adventure.
some role-playing in a village or a mini-hex crawl before you go in. I try to
add different textures or depths to it.
up several copies of the Gothridge manor books]. Probably almost every one I
have, one of my favorite things to do is write adventures, I really enjoy doing
that it’s a lot of fun for me.
the thing about the way that you do it, with OSR and the more or less open
license gives you, is that someone who’s good at writing adventures can write adventures and put them out there
or sell them or not sell them. Some of the other online policies make that tough.
Jackson Games is…
Jackson Games is…I think I was going to do that with GURPS. Especially when
they came out with what was it, e23?
thought that would be really cool just to do a PDF adventure and I looked at their guidelines and their
guidelines are like 56 pages long or something like that?
Style Guide is a little intense.
has to be 56 pages long, no, I’m not doing that.
this is not going to happen [laughs].
it . . . Rob and I talk about this once and a while, it keeps GURPS from
getting the support it needs, the adventure support it needs to maybe get to
people who don’t know it as much.
a lot of different…I have a fiction background too.
at most a lot of times. They are like one to two pages at most.
pages…they don’t have guidelines, this is the whole formatting thing which they
want you to format the thing. Which I can understand in a way.
about GURPS is they have excellent products. Between Harn and GURPS they have
some of the best products out there. They’re educational, for crying out loud
you can open any of their things and get a really good history lesson on any
culture from just about anywhere from one of their supplements [Doug laughs].
crack in there for a everyday person to write a adventure. If I wanted to write
a adventure about Vikings or 1800’s Russia or whatever, making it available to
someone else is kind of tough when you have that kind of barrier in front of
a bit of a challenge. One of the people who has done it the best is Matt
got a couple of adventures in Pyramid and he’s got Mirror of the Fire Demon
which is one of the very few, published full-on-adventure adventures.
bought it right away. Soon as it came out I snagged it. It’s great. It’s a very
tried to write one. It was actually going to be my first e23 release. It got
caught in editing hell. There was a period of time in e23 where they went
through four different chiefs and I got caught in that so I still have hope for
it because I think it was a fun game I actually ran it twice. It was a sort of
special ops kind of thing.
difficulty they talk about in getting over, as a dork I would refer to it as
activation energy. You have to get over this energy barrier.
blog is written mostly in Steve Jackson Games house style . . . as practice.
notice that, yeah.
do that deliberately, so I have practice with the formatting guide, although I
don’t always follow it slavishly. But during the Pyramid panel, I can’t
remember if it was Steven or Sean mentioned the formatting guide, and then
Christopher Rice said “Well, what about a writer’s support group?” and that
wasn’t actively supported because
they can’t, but Christopher started it anyway.
been going on for a couple of months, and I think, we’re approaching a dozen or
so articles, many of which are by authors who have never been published before.
call it “Pyramid Write Club” but the first rule of Write Club “Is we do not
talk about Write Club.”
course, and it’s good. Christopher is really helpful and really positive and
he’ll lay it out for you like he’s flaying you, but in a totally nice way . . .
because there is a right way to do it
for Steve Jackson Games.
Absolutely there is.
is a energy barrier to do it and to get that help and to understand how to
write the formats, and turn off your automatic formatting, and you don’t ever
use a certain kind of dash, and you do a find and replace every single double
space, because you should never have two spaces together in a Steve Jackson
Games document. And all the little tricks.
manor, blogging came first, the manor came second.
manor didn’t come out until…the first one came out two years ago now. I don’t
remember. I’m bad with that stuff. It kind of all blurs together. It basically
came because Christian Walkers Lovatar. Without that it would never have came
seen like zines in the past, but they were all like fiction. There was a big
horror zine movement in Jersey, even though I was a northwest PA boy I was kind
of able to get in on that scene and get in on the zines. Because where I live
there is nothing [laughs].
not to much around here.
that and I always thought it was really cool. I had no knowledge on how to make
them or anything like that and it wasn’t until Christian started doing his, and
I found the magic of the long-arm stapler, and it all changed from there.
was just sort of like “All right. I’m going to do this.”
first because I didn’t want to be treading or stepping on Christians toes and
he was just so helpful with anything questions I had. I had a real nice
response from everybody with it and I was like “Alright, I’m just going to keep
with it until I get tired of it. Or I run out of ink.” Which I do often [both
all printed here, it’s all stapled here, I fight with my printer all the time,
but it’s fun to do and that’s why I like doing it.
what common themes…and it looks like you typically have an adventure, a bunch
of NPCs, some poetry…
poetry. I love that stuff.
common theme I guess. It’s just whatever I’m finding interesting.
and everything. The funny thing is in the first Manor I have a real short
adventure called the “Salt Pit” it’s got one monster in it. And I just wanted
to do like a intro thing and people have been using that adventure a ton as a
introduction thing which is really cool.
that the one with the monster that’s from beyond the universe, and he’s
underneath the village?
from issue four. This is from the very first one. It’s the one with the
troglodyte in front. [garbled audio] I just love that cover. He’s sort of like
how a Dragon has its red dragon as its first cover? I’ve got my red troglodyte
as my first cover. That’s what I kind of put down there and they use that one
quite a bit. It’s cool to see when other people are using your adventures.
kick out of it. I love reading about people using that stuff.
now and then I stumble onto somebody who’s like “Oh yeah, I found this ruleset
for grappling in GURPS and blah, blah, blah.” And I’m like “Huh! People
actually do read my crap.”
[laughs] Exactly. Absolutely. Somebody found it useful. Holy crap.
thing that I think gets me the most is the bow and arrow thing that I did.
remember that one…yeah.
was the thing that Jeffro Johnson…I still have his review of that article on my
sig file because he described it as “What will probably be the most infamous
Pyramid article of all time.”
[laughs] Wow. Not bad.
like “Yeah.” And he and I have interacted before and it’s all cool, but he
accurately described it as “Everything that is both wrong and right..” he
didn’t use word for word, but he felt that it was everything that was both
wrong and right with GURPS. It was literally a physics paper.
that’s what I remember about it. I think that was one, too, one of the first
things I read on your blog I believe. And I was doing this whole thing on bows
and arrows actually, I think it was around the same time or I found it by sheer
chance. I was like “Oh, this is really cool.” Yeah, I do remember that.
that was fun. A little side note on that one was the interaction I had…there is
a great scholarly article called “The Defense Academy Warbow Trials.” Anyone
who wants to know about medieval bows used in war, obviously, needs to read
this. It tells you about penetration, draw force, everything. It was by
somebody from Cambridge and somebody else from Oxford (or something like that) and
it was a scholarly paper on this stuff, and I referenced it along with several
other books. And I’m a engineering writer and I’ve published in Physical Review
Letters and stuff . . . and I cite my sources as appropriate.
seemed like it was hacked, it was linked somewhere, but it didn’t seem legit.
the authors and said “I’m doing this thing do you have a legit link where I can
credit you properly.” And I got into
this email exchange with one of the others, “Hey send me your stuff” and so I
sent him a draft, and he thought it was neat and I was like “Hey, are you ever
going to do a sequel?” and he said “Well, I was going to, but me and my
co-author are currently working on IEDs in Iraq.” You know IED penetration, and
how to help the British army defend against this kind of thing.
just a fun little exchange because it was this unholy mix of scholarly article
and gaming thing.
know those scholars are probably out there dressed in chainmail out there
shooting those bows and arrows, shooting that stuff too. They probably loving
doing that. [laughs]
you just kind of write what comes to mind when filling up a manor? Do you have
don’t usually have a theme other than having fun. Hopefully it’s fun and it’s
useful. Sometimes the fun brings out
more than is useful. But not usually. I’ve been…the last one I had
was…one of my gaming guys, Chris, he does the clash on Spear and Shield…
read that blog [nodding].
those cursed concoctions which I absolutely loved. He wrote data for me and
then Sean Robson did a generator for me for Tavern names and this next one,
Manor #6, Matt Jackson did a brothel, a very interesting one [chuckles]. I
can’t wait to get the artwork back on that one.
suppose if you’re like “this is the most boring brother ever,” that’s wrong on
so many levels.
got a twist to his so it’ll be cool to see what the reception is. Jason Sholtis
is working on some artwork for that and it’ll be really cool, he always does
incredible artwork. And Ken from the rusty battleaxe blog – we game and it’s so
much fun to game with those guys. He did puzzle rooms for me. This series of
three puzzle rooms. He’s excellent at that kind of stuff.
of puzzle rooms, did you see, I think it was in Google+ someone created this
moveable dungeon with these nested circles which would reform themselves. It
was like a circle within a circle within a circle. Did you see that?
think I did.
bad ass. I try to keep this PG-13, and I think “bad ass” qualifies. But
everything moved, you could make it rotate this one four times or this one five
times and different…
like a giant puzzle dungeon.
could move it or rotate it and all of sudden you were trapped. The way in and the way out were the same door, but at
really cool. Unfortunately I missed that one.
see if I can dig it up and link to it because it was really neat. Can you tease
us for Manor #6?
of already did. I told you there was going to be a brothel in there with Matt
Jackson, there will be a map of course with it. Excellent maps.
there, kind of made my own class, called the guard. Poor guards they always get
beat up. I made them their own class [Doug laughs], so when I have guards they
now have guard stuff.
things that they can do. They have…I don’t have it here. But they have their
own little special abilities that they can do.
the guards because they’re just redshirts, you know? I’m giving them a
name. I think it’s important.
have to represent.
is no crewman number thirty-four.
Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell) from Galaxy Quest] I’m just crewman six! I don’t
even have a name [both laugh].
exactly right! And then I’m writing a small adventure because I can’t help
Adventures and maps seem to be your trademark.
was trying to actually build a hex-crawl. Almost building an article on how to
do a hex-crawl, and of course while I was doing that, I found a place that
needed a dungeon, and I started making a dungeon. I got distracted of course,
which is not hard for me to do.
done, everybody else has their stuff
done. The only one who doesn’t have their stuff done is me, of course.
and I’ll lead into this and I’ll kind of announce it here. I’ve been kind of
tip-toeing around the thing.
edits of this thing called “Starter Adventures.” It’s something I’ve released a
long time ago.
with John Larrey, I’m going to mispronounce peoples’ names and I apologize for
that on my blog already.
artwork and so helpful.
adventures for beginning people. I basically wrote it because of one night
after I gamed with my wife, I needed some very short, very simple adventures
that people could learn how to use the dice. Maybe how combat works, maybe the role-playing
adventures in certain situations.
them down into the four basic classes, and there are four different scenarios
for a fighter, a thief, a magic-user, and a cleric. So there are four different
you can’t start anywhere without a tavern. What did I call it? The Red Bear
Tavern or whatever in the middle and at the end of it, after they maybe get
used to the stuff there is a small short adventure in the back.
release, I’ve been printing it all myself. I’ll put it on Lulu or RPGNow and
let them do the work and print it out. That is just something beyond my means.
to getting that completed. Tim Schneider was really helpful in doing the
editing and everything like that.
not to be good, I’ve had so much help. So if it sucks it’s on me [laughs].
the things that I’m sort of doing is I joined, or follow, the RPGBlog
Association and this month’s topic is virtual table tops and online games. I’m
using these interviews that I’m doing to help plug that a little bit. So far
it’s been one of my posts and one other.
little love for VTTs and stuff.
online or do you play face to face or a little of both.
we could play face to face, we pretty much all live in different states except
for me and Rob, and we live fairly close together. We’ve been playing Fantasy
Grounds 2 for many many years, but in the past few months we’ve migrated over
use now, and it’s fun, it works.
and I’ve just kind of submitted my maps just to throw a few in there. That way
if people wanted some of my weird maps they can download them through there.
something that they pay for or is it there for free?
do for free or pay for it. I’ll more than likely just give them away, because I
give them away on my blog and I know some people who just…I’ve had one guy
contact me and ask me if it were okay if he could use it. If I put it on my
blog, it’s free. And anyone can use it.
someone wants to use it, I don’t care, that’s what it’s there for. If you used
it I sometimes like to see what you used it for. And I don’t require…
the only thing you really want is feedback.
I used your map for this adventure.” That’s all I need, that’s cool.
what do you like? You played Fantasy Grounds which I’ve never experienced,
you’ve played Roll20, which I have.
virtual tabletop? What you don’t like? What’s your wish list?
the least amount of technical difficulties you can possibly…And that was
something we were running into with Fantasy Grounds. We had people having
trouble logging onto it, where we didn’t have too much trouble with Roll20. We
seem to have less problems with that.
being able to download my material and have some sort of organization.
ruleset download, sometimes, on there, of some kind? It’s nice.
little bit of dedicated support within the rules that you’re playing.
fantastic – it’s just a little thing. The dynamic lighting, I love that. I
think it’s so cool.
“Oh, I need some more pogs or whatever” they’ll be there. You can go get them.
Devin Night does a ton of that stuff, he does such good work. We’ve been
grabbing his stuff for years and years. That’s pretty much it.
main important thing. Really, a virtual tabletop for me, is basically just a
place where everybody can see you roll your dice. Once in a while I can share a
map. I don’t use the pogs all that much or battlemaps, once and a while I do.
When you roll a critical failure I want everybody else to see it [both laugh].
only thing you care about is relative position and mortification.
It’s very important.
where I was going to have a people roll dice and “No, we got to be able to see
everybody’s rolls.” And I was like, “yeah, we do.”
has the amazing ability to roll critical failures at the most important times.
It’s probably our funnest time we have just laughing.
was actually something we noticed in Tenkar’s game. Peter and I both commented
on it. The frequency that 1s or 20s came up was definitely not five percent
are some nights where those 1s come up pretty heavy handed on me. But the
virtual…I think that their dice are lopsided, virtually.
random number generator is skewed towards awesome and relative doom.
It does make for a fun game some nights.
the things I found the most jarring about the Pathfinder games – until I sort
of embraced it, and I really need to do a blogpost about this – embracing . . .
don’t fight the rules. That was the thing that I need to do a post on that.
The 3d6 GURPS distribution is centered at 10, you get one sigma of three…two
times out of three, you’re going to be between 7 and 13 on the dice, so almost
all your rolls are in there.
roll 20, one time it’s a 2. You really had no…I didn’t, for a while, have a
inherent feel to it. All right, a +5 or whatever means you’re going to be 75%
successful against a 10. It’s just a different kind of probability distribution,
and once I stopped fighting the rules I had a lot more fun.
That’s one of the…I see that on some of the GURPS players I play with. They
don’t like the dice distribution and the scores. You go from a linear type of
chance from a bell curve type of chance it’s…
It’s a huge difference. The probabilities or whatever are so different between
the two games, that it makes it completely different. Some people just don’t
was a great flamewar somewhere on RPG.net . . . which is always a great place
heard that. Can’t say I’ve ever been there. I think I’ve been there once or
someone offered up that a +2 modifier should be the same . . .but a +2 modifier
is different depending on your skill in GURPS. Let’s say a negative modifier.
reasonably hard task, like a -5, for someone with a skill of 10 or 12, a -5 is a
or 5 in a skill like you are defaulting on it. You suck, no matter what. It’s
hard to suck less than you already do. The relative percent different in that
huge penalty isn’t much.
25 or 20 you’re still rolling success 90% or 95% of the time. And people are
like “That is inherently wrong! That
-5 penalty should be -5 no matter what your skill is!” And it’s real gasoline
on the fire.
group even got into that discussion. Not like a heated fight. And I might not
be remembering this right.
where the magic, the “Rule of 16” or something like that.
different rules, I think there are two different rules. One is for Willpower
which is the one I think you’re talking about.
high-powered people at that point because now we can’t go higher than that. And
I’m like “Hey, if I got a 20 skill, then I got a 20 skill.” I don’t want to
roll around missing with a 16 and I could misinterpret it, it’s been a while
since we used that.
it’s what I think I remember, it was resistance
to a spell never got better..you could always critically fail. A 17 or 18
always failed. If you had a Will 16 or 26 you could always F’ it up.
Yeah. There are a whole bunch of different…there are steps in the rules. I
think accepting the game itself, or whatever is going on with like the DMs
presenting, that’s almost more important than that. If you can do that then the
rules will come along I think.
in Ohio not too long ago. So much fun. But then you always have this one guy
who comes in and he’s kind of like…we were playing Savage Worlds, and I’d never
played Savage Worlds before.
one of those games where I have the rulebook and I can read through it, but I
don’t…I can read through rulesbooks three times, but I don’t understand it till
I play them.
helpful, but there was one guy who was sort of versed in Savage Worlds and I
guess he had written something for it, but every time the DM would make a call
he question it.
this.” “The rules says that.” And that’s when I want to kind of grab him by the
collar and say “Shut the F’ up, play the game, and roll the dice. He’s the GM,
when you’re the GM we’ll listen to whatever you have to say, but he’s the GM
just roll your dice and have fun with it. Don’t worry about that.”
one-time thing, like a convention, you almost want to have the GM who’s done
the work who’s for you and he’s helping you play or whatever. He’s got a set of
yellow and red cards like a soccer game.
you – that’s starting to get to the point where you are not being helpful rules
guy. You’re just being contentious. One more…the famous blue bolts from above?
Yeah. The trebuchet full of d4s is going to descend upon you.
[laughs] There you go.
too many of those lately, but once and a while they remind me.
I had this whole newbie group, and they moved to a new GM from me to continue
playing and that new GM wouldn’t even let them use their own dice [laughs].
blog about it and got a pretty good response. I think I called it called it
Gamer Goob or something like that.
make sure I link to that when we get this transcribed.
couldn’t believe it. He just didn’t want anybody else to use different dice.
Because I had all these newbie guys come in and I had a really good time with
them and we were using Swords & Wizardry and I think that’s when Barrowmaze
came out and I was using the pieces of that. I was pulling stuff from my own
stuff and as part of the game, I bought them all a set of dice.
yeah, sure. Like a souvenir.
so they cold have it. And eventually the game ended and it was a short run
adventure and they told me about the guy they got hooked up with and I was just
like, oh, God. Sorry to hear that guys.
got to figure that that’s the rough equivalent of stuff that led Stacy…
goes my dice box.
could have been a while. Have you ever seen the movie “Twins” with Danny DaVito
and Arnold Schwarzenegger? The chain that kept going and going and going, some
dice collections could be like that,
It stayed intact fairly.
got to think when you run into game like that when you run into a total control
freak that wouldn’t let me use my own dice, is sort of the rules-lawyer
equivalent of the obnoxious person who is really patronizing to a newbie or a
female or a female newbie that I’ve seen. That’s the thing: I’m not usually one
for, statements I guess.
martial art’s instructor, she can weld pipes better than me, she’s a PhD. in
Environmental Engineering, and when she took her car into repair and I happened
to walk in after her, because I was meeting here there to drive her home, and
the dude’s talking to me and I’m like
“I don’t own the car.”
and that’s the kind of thing that’s going to be like “Yeah, these role-playing
people . . . deserve their reputation.”
[laughs]. It seems like when I was a kid that would happen a lot because a lot
of the young kids were trying to establish themselves in a group. I haven’t
seen it as much, but I haven’t been out that much either.
anti-social gamer. I wish I was more out there playing games, but
unfortunately, I just don’t get out as much as I could. I like doing my
writing. I have a wife too, and responsibilities like everybody else, and those
sort of suck my energy up sometimes like when work does.
you have to be careful, because occasionally, apparently, your wife vandalizes
your blog with no reason or warning.
[laughs] This is true. That’s the danger of a wife who knows HTML and I don’t
even know if I’m saying it right. I’m like, ah man! [laughs]
just get a phone call at work, and she won’t say anything, she’ll just be
cackling on the other end.
[laughs] The Evil Queen.
much. She does it every once and a while.
her face into the new Malificent trailer.
fun to watch her, she’s learned so much. On her blog, most of her followers are
gamers, so they really appreciate the cooking. There are a lot of gamers who
have all different interests. And they go on and support her which is a lot of
fun and everything. It’s fun to watch.
Okay, well, as always on the Firing Squad after I’ve shot my questions at you,
I give you the last world. Is there anything you want to part with?
just glad that you’re doing these interviews, some of these people, like when
you did with Tenkar and Stacy, it’s really cool to see the people that you
interview and get to know a little bit more about them than you would on the
interviews. It’s really cool.
appreciate that, thanks.
about it, I just hope that everybody enjoys…if they ever want to shoot me a
email about the Manors, I’m more than happy to. I give them away too, so if
somebody doesn’t have enough money, or just short on stuff . . . they are there
ask just one question: Have you ever thought of doing something…you got
Gothridge Manor, have you ever thought of having like “The Manorhouse,” or
something: pose a theme and see who wants to contribute to it?
this kind of adjunct 12 or 16 pages or three or four things you can fold
together and do a short booklet and it’s just like the same way you’d run a
game for newbies. You have a zine for newbies.
would be kind of cool. The one time I kind of did that recently, was for a
fiction version. I wanted too…but there was no way. I’d had helped out with
zine, starting with other things. Sean Robson took it over – I’m going to mess
it up, it’s Mysterum Librum?
was close. Something like that. And it’s out now, and it’s like gamers who
wrote additional stuff for the Appendix N version. Short stories in that theme.
and I put it out there and I got a good response for it. And I’m like “Oh
crap…now I got..”
got to do it again.
thinking now…and then Sean said, “Hey, do you mind if I run with this?” and I
was like “Oh, please do.”
run as fast as you can.
editor. I didn’t realize that about Sean, and he’s just grade A with that
stuff. He’s actually a glutton for punishment, and now he wants to do a second
one and I’m like “Please do!” he loves do it. He’s done a excellent job so if
anybody please go take a look at it. He’s done a lot of work and it’s
can’t find a link I’ll email you and make sure that it’s there.
think I’ve linked to it before but definitely, if you need anything please let
me know and I’ll definitely hook you up with it. I’d love to see that kind of
thing succeed. It’s really cool.
bet. Thanks for your time and if anything comes up again, we’ll do another one.
I’ve got like three or four, or five, that are kind of nascent all about
virtual tabletops. I reached out to Fantasy Ground, Hero Labs, Roll20, and
Maptool and I got at least one nailed.
Excellent! Good! I love to see/hear those.
I want them to be short, like 30 minutes, short and sweet largely because, I do
okay, but I can’t afford [laughs] ten transcribed interviews in a month.
bring this up: Tenkar said he was going to pay for this one so you hold him to
is a reason why I’ve been doing the Minnesota goodbye here – over and over and
over. He’s a officer of the law, I don’t want to put too much on him, he’ll
harass me or something [Tim laughs]. I guess I’m out of his jurisdiction but he
could always kill my character.
you are in his game so he could do horrible things to you there. I’m pretty
sure that’s not going to stop him either way.
no kidding. Thanks for your time.
again, Doug, that was a lot of fun.